The three women who drowned yesterday would have paid up to 4,000 yuan (HK$3,740) to snakeheads to spirit them across the narrow stretch of water between Zhuhai and Macau. Some of the steady stream of women smuggled into the enclave believe they are heading for a legitimate job, but most understand the situation and are after easy money. The women are collected by a pimp, taken to a guesthouse shared with other prostitutes and then start working in hotels or nightclubs where they may earn anything from $300 to $30,000 for one night. However, police sources say that after deductions by pimps and guest house owners, prostitutes make as little as $200 for each client. In Macau, police conduct anti-vice operations at least once a week. But some residents say prostitution is spiralling out of control, pointing to the flood of mainland women at the waterfront Hotel Lisboa casino as proof. The women wear heavy make-up and see-through blouses while beckoning passersby. They parade in the hotel lobby, the basement shopping arcade and the casino hallways. A hotel manager said little could be done as some of the women were guests at the hotel. In the past, prostitutes were more discreet, working from three-star hotels or guesthouses, saunas and bars. Prostitution is not illegal in the enclave, but organised crime laws introduced last year forbid soliciting in public and give authorities powers to imprison pimps. Some reports said there were about 4,000 prostitutes in Macau, mainly from the mainland and Southeast Asia. A Zhuhai Public Security Bureau spokesman said border control had been tightened and further anti-crime operations would be conducted.